Gomez’s mother, Juanita, answered the door and let him in.
Moments later, Merlos saw the body.
“I can just see my girl laying in there, like with her arms out, the crucifix right here,” he said Thursday. “You couldn’t even recognize her face at all. Like, that’s not my girl, you know?”
Juanita Gomez, 51, was found guilty of first-degree murder of her 33-year-old daughter on Thursday.
Geneva Gomez died after her mother beat her and forced a crucifix down her throat because she believed her child was possessed.
The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole, according to Oklahoma County court officials.
Merlos had testified that, after he saw Geneva Gomez’s body, Juanita Gomez put him in a headlock as he tried to leave and mumbled about the “devil” and “money,” according to the Oklahoman.
He then called Oklahoma City police, and officers found Geneva Gomez splayed on the floor with marks of severe trauma around her head and face, according to court documents. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“She didn’t look anything like the woman that he loved,” Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Lavenue said of Merlos during the trial, according to the Oklahoman. “It scared him almost to death.”
Juanita Gomez later told police she believed her daughter was possessed by the devil, and she confessed to punching Geneva Gomez repeatedly and forcing a crucifix and religious medallion down her throat until blood spilled out of her daughter’s mouth.
After watching her daughter die, Juanita Gomez spread the body out in the shape of a cross. She told police she then tried to clean her daughter and other items in the house.
Police in court documents noted that Juanita Gomez’s hands were swollen and her arms were bruised.
“Juanita stated these bruises were from her daughter fighting her attempts to rid Satan from her daughter’s body,” an Oklahoma City police investigator said in a 2016 court document.
Juanita Gomez had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Court records show her defense attorneys planned to offer an insanity defense at trial, but a psychologist found Gomez was feigning memory problems to appear incompetent, the Oklahoman reported.
In his brief opening statement Tuesday, Juanita Gomez’s attorney, Nick Southerland, asked jurors to pay close attention to the evidence presented in the case and “not just the accusations,” the Oklahoman reported.